With the latest impact of COVID-19, we need to consider all the ramifications of changes to the April 28th primary election.
Maryland is widely known to run excellent elections and we want to maintain that status, but most importantly, we must provide a safe, fair and equitable process for all our citizens - most specifically our vulnerable, low-income, differently-abled citizens, and those dealing with illnesses.
Proceeding with an in-person election on April 28th could cause a decrease in turnout and also pose a serious risk to voters and the backbone of our electoral system, senior poll workers. Proceeding on April 28th without them would cause serious disruptions.
- If we proceed with an April 28th election, I’d call on the Board of Elections to engage young people and college students suddenly out of school to be poll workers to keep things running on election day.
While many discuss a mail-in program, it is important to remember that this has never been done en masse in Maryland. Our current system is not equipped with the technology or resources needed to make this a safe, fair process. This election is too important to rush the process. Otherwise, our state could open itself up to widespread voter fraud and also lower turnout due to the confusion and potential lack of communication to historically disadvantaged voters and communities.
The Iowa Caucus is an example of new technology being introduced without proper training, and we cannot allow this confusion in Maryland.
- If we proceed with a Vote By Mail program, Maryland must provide pre-paid ballot envelopes to ensure access and equity for all voters.
Based on the current status, I’m calling on Governor Hogan to postpone the April 28th election, following the lead of Louisiana. This will allow the Governor and our state and local officials the time and resources to focus full-time on the response to COVID-19, rather than preparing for an election. Then, we can proceed with the election after we’ve dealt with the current public health crisis.
I know these are the questions the Governor and the Board of Elections are working through and it is imperative that they are given the time to make these decisions in a way that ensures access to the ballot for all Maryland voters, rather than making a hasty decision.